Thin-Film ‘Tandem Modules’ Boost Efficiency by 50%

Oerlikon Solar, a global supplier of turnkey solutions for thin-film silicon solar modules, this week introduced its micromorph tandem technology, a combination of amorphous and microcrystalline materials on the top and bottom of a photovoltaic solar cell.

Oerlikon claims that the cell will achieve efficiencies of 10% and higher “in the near future.”

The micromorph module technology is comprised of an amorphous top cell, which converts the visible part of the sun’s spectrum. The microcrystalline bottom cell absorbs light in the infrared spectrum. Because of this double layer, Oerlikon says the technology boosts the efficiency level by approximately 50% over traditional amorphous single cells.

“Our new micromorph tandem technology has the potential for efficiencies of over 10% and leads to a further reduction of the cost per watt peak,” said Dr. Uwe Krueger, Chief Executive Officer of Oerlikon. “All materials we utilize in our thin-film technology are non-toxic, low cost and readily available. The embodied energy used to produce our micromorph tandem modules is merely half versus crystalline cells.”

According to the industry analyst firm NanoMarkets LC, the global thin-film solar market will reach $7.2 billion by 2015. The market today is just over $1 billion, which means the market will grow exponentially over the next 7 years. Oerlikon hopes to cash in on that growth with its increasingly efficient tandem cells.
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